When it’s time for your annual family vacation and you’re planning on hitting the road there are plenty of things you need to do to make sure you and your family stay safe, especially if you’re planning on traveling hundreds of miles. But what about the family dog? Some people may be comfortable with allowing their pet to run around the backseat, but this can be potentially dangerous, especially for those with a hyper, younger dog. It can also be potentially fatal for the dog, in the event of a serious accident. Fortunately, the best dog car harnesses are designed to keep your pup securely in their seat. This not only prevents your dog from jumping in your lap when you’re driving, but it will also protect them in the event of an accident, preventing them from flying out of the car upon impact.
But finding the right harness for your dog isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are many factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final decision, such as safety ratings, the type of buckle system used, and how durable the harness is. There are many lower-priced harnesses on the market that claim they can keep your dog safe, but this is one device you don’t want to shop for based on price.
I’ve taken a look at some of the leading models with high user ratings and I’ve found the best six models that are dominating the market for all the right reasons. Whether you’re looking for a harness that has a higher than average safety rating, one that’s known for its comfortable fit, or a model that’s easy to use, I’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists some of the best features for each model, how they rated and other importation information that will help you determine which harness will work the best for you and your dog.
Dog Car Harness Comparison Chart
Pawaboo Dog Safety Vest Harness
The Pawaboo dog safety vest harness works to prevent your dog from jumping around in the backseat of the car or out the window when the vehicle is in motion. It’s effective in reducing driver distraction and will protect your dog from a serious injury in the event of a collision. Using a seat belt clip the harness will keep your dog under control and comfortable during your journey. This model is also very user-friendly, featuring a two-sided fast-release buckle system that makes the harness easy to take off and put on.
To do, simply place it over your dog’s head and buckle up both sides, then adjust the straps as needed. Next, you’ll attach the safety belt to the D-ring, then fasten the seat belt. Since the safety belt clip on the harness is detachable, the harness can also be used for walks, simply remove the belt and attach the harness to a leash. The harness is made out of one hundred percent polyester and comes with a heavily padded chest plate, complete with snap hooks that are made out of stainless steel, so you know the harness is built to last. This model is designed for small and medium-sized dogs and is available in a variety of size options.
- Highly adjustable
- Can also be used as a walking harness
- Stainless steel clip system
- Not breathable
- Only works for small and medium-sized breeds
This is a lightweight harness that’s user-friendly and very versatile, allowing you to detach the safety belt and use the harness for walks, which is perfect for travel. Unfortunately, the harness is made out of one hundred percent polyester, so it’s not breathable, which can be a problem if you’re traveling during the summer. Additionally, the sizes available will only work for small and medium breeds. Overall, the harness does feature the type of durability and buckle system that is designed to keep your pet safe, comfortable, and secure, when you’re on the road.
Mighty Paw Car Dog Harness
This harness by Mighty Paw is designed for dogs of all sizes ranging from small up to extra-large. There are no sizes available for toy or extra-extra-large breeds, such as Great Danes. The harness is made out of weatherproof, durable material that’s highly breathable and easy to clean. The harness itself is lightweight and comes equipped with padding in all the right places, which will ensure that your dog remains happy and comfortable for the entire journey. This model also doubles as a regular harness, so you can unclip the safety belt portion of the harness and use it for those short potty breaks when you’re on the road. The reflective stitching found all throughout the harness will also improve your dog’s visibility, when you use the harness for walks at night.
- Several size options available
- Reflective stitching for nighttime safety
- Not designed for toy or extra-extra-large breeds
- Can be difficult to adjust
The harness is durable, lightweight, waterproof and breathable. Its versatile design will allow you to use the harness for walks, and the reflective stitching works to keep your pet highly visible for nighttime walks. There have been some reports that the harness can be difficult to adjust, which can be a deal-breaker for some pet owners. For others, the durable design and the heavily padded interior are enough to hit that buy now button.
PetSafe Deluxe Car Safety Dog Harness
This model is crash-test certified and is designed for small to extra-large breeds. It features a breathable, lightweight design and comes equipped with multiple attachment points, all of which will help to keep your dog safe and secure on your trip. This model is user-friendly, allowing you to easily and quickly put the harness on and take it off.
- Crash-test certified
- Not designed for toy breeds or extra-extra-large breeds
This model has undergone extensive testing to ensure it’s able to keep your pet safe in the event of a collision. Its user-friendly buckle system will make it easy to put the harness on and take it off, while the versatile design allows you to use the harness both in the car and for walks.
EzyDog Drive Safety Travel Dog Car Harness
This model has passed USA, Europe, and Australia safety requirements. The harness is available in three size options for small, medium, and large breeds. The intuitive design makes it very beginner-friendly. All you have to do is feed the belt through the webbing handles located on the top of the harness, then click the buckle into the seat belt and your pet is good to go. The Mag-Lok instant fit closure system makes it fast and easy to put the harness on and take it off, while the aluminum alloy hardware ensures this harness will last year after year.
- Safety certified in the USA, Europe, and Australia
- Only available in three size options
- Not breathable
- Cannot be used as a walking harness
This model is one of the safest on the market, and its user-friendly design makes taking the harness on and off a cinch. The fact that it cannot be used as a walking harness may be a drawback for some pet owners who are looking for a more versatile model.
Lukovee Dog Safety Vest Harness with Seatbelt
This model features a highly breathable mesh chest panel and is made out of moisture-wicking material that will keep your pet cool and dry on your trip. The harness is highly adjustable and comes in six size options ranging from xxx-small to large. The quick-release buckle system allows you to easily put the harness on and take it off, so it’s very user-friendly.
- Can be used as a walking harness
- Six size options available
- Not designed for extra-large breeds
- Thin padding
This model can be used in the car and on walks. It’s highly adjustable and made out of durable, moisture-wicking, highly breathable materials that will keep your pet cool and happy on your trip. Unfortunately, the harness does not come in sizes for extra-large and extra-extra-large breeds.
Musonic Dog Safety Vest Harness with Safety Belt
The straps on the harness are highly adjustable and can be tightened to prevent your dog from easily slipping it. The durable chest and neck straps are adjustable and feature heavily padded sleeves that are designed to prevent chafing. The fast-release two-sided buckle system makes it easy to take the harness off or put it on. This model is available in four size options ranging from extra-small to large. It will not work for larger breeds, such as German shepherds. The lightweight harness is made out of durable material, but it’s not very breathable, which can make it a bad choice in hotter weather.
- Fast-buckle release system
- Highly adjustable
- Four size options
- Not breathable
- Not designed for larger breeds
This versatile harness can be used to keep your pet safe and secure in the car, but it can also be used for walks, which is a huge plus if you’re planning a long family trip on the road. The fast-release buckle system makes this model easy to use, allowing you to quickly get your pet secured or remove the harness for a potty break. This harness is a great buy if you’re looking for a durable model that’s heavily padded and highly adjustable.
Dog Car Harness Buyer’s Guide
A harness is designed to keep your pet secure and safe when you’re in the car. But if you’re new to dog ownership or you’ve never taken your pet on a trip with the family, then it’s important to learn how to travel with your dog in the car safely. There are many important features to look for in a harness including safety ratings, how the harness attaches, whether it features the appropriate padding, and how to find the perfect fit. Below, I’ll go over exactly what you should look for in order to find the best dog car harness that’s designed to keep your pet safe, comfortable, and protected when you’re on the road.
Seat Belt Connection
This style of harness wraps around the dog’s sternum and chest, just like a typical harness that’s designed for walking. However, these harnesses are much different than a standard harness because they’re designed to withstand the force of a collision and can prevent a serious injury. Many of these harnesses are used in conjunction with a seatbelt and plug directly into the seatbelt connection, then attach to the harness on the other end.
You’re buying a harness to keep your pet safe and secure when they’re traveling with you in the car, so paying close attention to the product’s safety rating is crucial. Has the harness you’re interested in been crash tested? Some models will barely meet crash testing requirements, while others have undergone extensive testing to prove that they’re among the safest models on the market.
There are many different ways a manufacturer can test their harnesses. Some will undergo extensive testing and have been tried against hundreds of pounds of impact. Look for a product that has meet U.S. and European safety standards. The level of safety will vary from model to model, so it will be up to you to do your research to learn how each harness has been tested, whether it only meets the bare minimum in terms of safety requirements, and whether it goes above and beyond the required safety ratings in American and Europe.
When you’re shopping for a harness, you’ll also want to pay attention to how secure the harness is, in terms of keeping your pet in their seat. You don’t want a model that doesn’t work to keep your dog in place since a harness that can easily be slipped means your dog can end up jumping around in the front or backseat, which can be a major distraction for the driver. If the driver is distracted, this can put everyone in the car at risk. Make sure you read buyer reviews to learn whether or not a dog can easily slip the harness that you’re interested in.
Comfort will also be important since your dog will be wearing the harness for several hours a day. The harness should have sufficient padding and should not rub against your dog’s skin when they change positions. This can lead to sores and hot spots. The harness should also be made out of breathable material, which is designed to keep your pet cool and dry.
This is one area that you’ll need to be very careful with. Never purchase a harness just based on whether it’s a small, medium, or large model. These sizes will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. You need to pay attention to the measurements of the harness and measure your dog before you order. The harness needs to be the correct size, otherwise, it will not provide the type of protection your pet needs. Many manufacturers will list the dimensions of each harness, so you’ll have a clear idea of which model will work. Make sure they also have a return policy in the event you order the wrong size.
Additionally, some models are a better option for larger breeds, while others are specifically designed for small and toy breeds. Find a brand that offers a variety of size options and breed-specific styles so you know the harness will come equipped with padding in all the right areas and a design that’s highly adjustable.
As I mentioned, a model that’s highly adjustable is a must. This will be true for breeds of all sizes, but especially for toy and extra-large breeds. The harness should fit snug, but it should not be so tight that it cuts into the skin or causes general irritation. It should also be snug enough that it prevents the dog from slipping out of it. A model that’s highly adjustable will allow you to lengthen or shorten the straps for the perfect fit. Some models are more adjustable than others.
Ease of Use
If you’ve ever used a regular harness, then you know some can be a true pain to put on and it can take several tries before you get it right. If you’re spending several hours a day on the road, then you’ll want a model that’s easy to put on and take off, especially if you have a hyper pup that won’t sit still or one who’s eager to get out of the car ASAP.
Some harnesses require the dog to step into them, while other models are slightly easier to use and will clip on. If you don’t have any problems with teaching your dog commands, and they’re fairly obedient, then a step-in model can work fine. If you have an eager, overly excited dog, then you’ll want to go with a clip-on model since this type can be much easier and faster to put on and take off.
Do you want a harness that you can use both in the car and for walks? What dog owner wouldn’t. Finding a versatile model that you can use to keep your dog safe and secure in the car and for walks when you have to pull over for a bathroom break will be perfect for life on the road. This will eliminate the need of you bringing along an additional harness or having to use a collar. It can also make it less stressful for your dog and will be much faster to get your dog in and out of the car. If you’re potty training a dog, the last thing you want to do is make them wait to use the bathroom because you have to change harnesses. Look for a model that’s designed for both car and walk use, which will make everyone’s life on the road much simpler and the harness more convenient to use.
If you’re going to use the harness for potty breaks, then you need a model that’s durable, one that comes with a tough buckle system that can handle heavy-duty use. Many lower-priced models have buckle systems that will quickly wear out or straps that can begin to fray after only a few months of use. Look for a harness with a high durability rating.
How to Use a Car Harness
If possible, avoid using the harness in the passenger seat. The backseat is the safest place for your dog to be. If you don’t have a backseat, then you can use the harness for the passenger seat, but you’ll need to shut off the passenger-side airbags, which can be fatal to your dog if they go off in the event of an accident.
This type of harness should be used for the safety of your pet, your safety, and the safety of your family. A dog is much more likely to survive a car accident unharmed if they’re using a harness, especially one that has a high crash test rating. A loose dog in the car can be dangerous to the people in the car and people on the road since a dog may distract the driver or jump on them, which can lead to an accident. Because of this, a dog harness should be looked at as an important investment.
Are Dogs Required to Wear a Harness in the Car by Law?
Throughout the years, there have been many states that have considered making seat belt use mandatory for dogs. In 2012, New Jersey proposed a law that called for seat belt use for dogs, but many citizens were critical of this requirement. Other states have also proposed seat belt laws. These safety belt requirements for dogs have been met with some success, typically in the form of restricting dogs to the backseat of a vehicle, but not requiring pet owners to use a restraint system.
Only a handful of states require a dog to wear a harness or to be restricted when in a moving vehicle. Some states have passed laws that ban dogs from sitting in a truck bed or the front seat, or from allowing a pet’s head to hang out the window. Connecticut, Hawaii, and Arizona will charge drivers under the distracted driving law if a dog is found riding in their lap. In California, drivers can also be ticketed for pets riding in the driver’s lap.
Where there are many states that ban inhumane or cruel transportation of animals, it’s not always clear what constitutes cruelty. The language that surrounds dogs riding in the beds of trucks is much easier to understand since many states have laws in place that will ensure that a dog in an open truck bed must be contained properly via cross tethered or in a crate.
If you’re not certain what the rules are concerning dog travel, then check with your state’s website to learn more.
This buyer’s guide on the best dog car harnesses and the product recommendations that I’ve included here are designed to help you find a harness that’s durable, one that features an excellent safety rating, and a model that’s designed to last and ensure that your pet and the whole family remains safe on the road, especially when it comes to those longer cross country family trips.